Donated new office furniture outfits Grosse Pointe Historical Society building

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published December 7, 2022

GROSSE POINTE FARMS — The Grosse Pointe Historical Society now has a beautiful new building at 375 Kercheval Ave. in Grosse Pointe Farms for its offices and archives, but the project wouldn’t have been complete without furniture to go with it.

But this wouldn’t have happened, if not for the aid of another nonprofit.

“We really didn’t have the budget to buy new furniture,” GPHS Vice President of Development Stuart Grigg said.

That’s where the Mount Clemens-based nonprofit We Are Here Foundation came in. Thanks to them, the GPHS received a gift of about $24,000 worth of new office furniture to outfit the new building, offices and archives.

James McMillan also donated some file cabinets, Grigg said.

We Are Here Foundation founder Tom Cleaver — whom Grigg called “a godsend” — said the organization was able to give the GPHS white boards, office desks and chairs, filing cabinets and the like.

“I think we found everything (they needed) for their office. They’re good people,” said Cleaver, who dropped off roughly 40 additional filing cabinets in November after giving the GPHS an initial allotment of filing cabinets and office furniture in September. The filing cabinets are largely being used to house the GPHS’ archives, so the GPHS needed dozens of cabinets.

The We Are Here Foundation also works with all of the school districts in Michigan and Ohio, trying to get them the furniture they need.

We Are Here has a partnership with the office store chain Staples that enables it to get new office furniture for schools and nonprofits, but We Are Here also accepts donations of gently used office furniture and the like.

“We’re always looking for opportunities for recycling office furniture,” Cleaver said.

Previous donations have come from corporations such as General Motors and Ford Motor Co. Cleaver said he’s gotten “incredible office suites” from major companies.

“All of that stuff was going to go in a landfill (otherwise),” said Cleaver of the furniture, which is often just a few years old.

Cleaver said We Are Here has even given truckloads of furniture to the United Way for distribution to churches and nonprofits in southeast Michigan.

Despite the large scope of its work, Cleaver said many people have never heard of the We Are Here Foundation.

“We have no (advertising) budget,” Cleaver said. “One hundred percent of our funding comes from donated boats (and cars).”

He said We Are Here receives no federal grants. It earns money by accepting donations of boats and vehicles, repairing those and selling them.

Besides making sure schools and nonprofits have needed furniture, the We Are Here Foundation organizes the annual Nautical Coast Cleanup, which removes trash and debris from the Lake St. Clair shoreline. Cleaver said they’ve sponsored the Nautical Coast Cleanup for about 25 years now.

Cleaver said he works closely with Macomb County corrections officials to get individuals who are required by the court to do community service to help move furniture.

“It’s backbreaking work, but we’re not afraid of hard work,” Cleaver said.

Vehicle and boat donations are tax-deductible, Cleaver said.

To donate a boat or vehicle, or for more information about the We Are Here Foundation, visit or call (586) 463-9400.